Jo Malone CBE is His & Hers’ ultimate business hero. So we were incredibly excited (and more than a little nervous) at the prospect of asking her a few questions. Whether you’re as obsessed as we are with the career of the woman who founded two of the world’s most successful fragrance brands or you’re simply looking for some serious inspiration for your own life, we’d highly recommend reading on for what is already one of our all-time favourite His & Hers interviews…
The Jo Malone CBE back story:
Fellow fragrance obsessives will be familiar with how Jo Malone CBE fell in love with fragrance while working from a skincare clinic which she set up from her London home. Discovering a natural talent for creating scented products by hand in her kitchen, word of her exceptional potions quickly spread and soon she was unable to keep up with demand. From these artisan beginnings Jo Malone CBE launched her first brand, Jo Malone London, which gained cult status around the world. In 1999, Jo sold the business to Estée Lauder Companies and remained Creative Director until she left in 2006.
However, her passion for fragrance was undimmed and when the time was right she began working on a secret project behind the scenes. After much anticipation, Jo revealed that project to be Jo Loves – an innovative new scent, bath, body and candle collection inspired by the memories and moments in life that she loves. His & Hers recently checked out the full Jo Loves range at a London press day, where we probably spent longer than is polite inhaling all of the products with her famous Pomelo fragrance. Thankfully that didn’t put Jo Malone CBE off agreeing to answer our questions!
You famously started your business from your home, blending fragrances in your kitchen in the 1990s – making yours a true kitchen counter start-up. Do you think it’s still possible to build a global brand from such humble beginnings today?
It’s definitely still possible, it just takes a brave entrepreneur. I believe success comes down to passion, resilience and creativity. You’ve got to be passionate about what you’re building because if you don’t feel passionate about it, you’re never going to get anyone else to feel that way. Don’t be frightened of tough times either – the resilience that comes with business is an asset not a liability.
Having achieved such phenomenal success with your first business and ultimately selling it to the Estée Lauder group, was it in the back of your mind that you’d like to continue to create iconic fragrances in the future?
It wasn’t in the back of my mind at the time but what I realised about myself, after stepping away from my first business, was that fragrance is not a business to me or my career – it’s my best friend.
During my five-year lockout period, I had lost my purpose, my values and my way. So, I thought to myself, I’m going to try again. I felt that life was too long to sit there and regret; too short not to live your dreams.
Looking back on that decision today, I believe it was necessary to make that “mistake” in order to explore new opportunities and continue to challenge myself. Look at me now, I’m living the best of my life that I possibly can, so I don’t ‘regret’ anything.
I think most fragrance lovers have an all-time favourite Jo Loves and Jo Malone London scent which has pride of place on the dressing table. For His & Hers, the Pomelo range with its fresh citrusy aroma is one of our firm favourites. Do you have a few all-time favourite fragrances, and are there any scents found in nature that make you feel happy?
I love citrus notes, Grapefruit being one of my favourite ingredients, because they make me feel safe and at home. I wear Pomelo or Jo by Jo Loves most days but also love floral notes, so add to my scent as the day goes on.
When people think of you, they probably think of your successful businesses, or associate you with one of their favourite fragrances, or perhaps think of your career highlights, such as being awarded a CBE for services to industry in the Queen’s Birthday honours last year. It all sounds incredibly glamorous! Do you think that in this Instagram age, we sometimes overlook the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in terms of building a successful business?
Yes of course people do, they often think that a business becomes successful overnight. A lot of time and hard work goes into building a brand, especially a global one. This is why I believe passion is incredibly important. That being said, why should everybody see what goes on behind the scenes? It should appear effortless.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who may be reading this feature?
It’s crucial to inspire people to dream big and realise their potential. Embrace change and challenges. Sometimes in life we walk away from the things that scare us but it’s those things that make us stronger.
What should we expect from Jo Loves in 2019?
I set out from day one to build a global brand and eight years on, that is exactly what we are doing. Jo Loves is a springboard of creativity and I’m always looking for new innovative ways for people to wear fragrance. I have just launched the paperback version of my book, Jo Malone: My Story. I had been asked to write a book about 10 years before I did. I had this real sense that if I was going to write this book – you know you only write your life story once – I have to make sure that it’s right time. When you write a book you have to be standing on the mountain side and you have to be looking down.
We have also recently launched the White Rose & Lemon Leaves Fragrance Paintbrush with more launches coming throughout the year.